The leaders of religious communities in Cyprus joined forces with the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) in a call for new information on burial sites of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots whose fate is still unknown, it was announced on Saturday.
In a brief recorded message, Archbishop Chrysostomos, Turkish Cypriot mufti Talip Atalay, Archbishop of the Maronites Youssef Soueif and religious leader of the Armenian community Mastots Askarian issued a plea to anyone with any information on the fate of missing persons to come forward.
The video was presented at an event organised on Friday night by the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process, which operates under the auspices of the Swedish embassy in Cyprus, at the Ledra Palace.
Chief coordinator of the office Salpi Eskidjian said she was profoundly moved by the unequivocal commitment of all religious leaders to do everything in their power to help the CMP by encouraging those with information to share it.
CMP members also welcomed the religious leaders’ initiative.
Turkish Cypriot member Gulden Plumer Kucuk thanked the religious leaders of Cyprus for their appeal and stressed the importance of a dignified funeral for the loved ones of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot families.
Her Greek Cypriot counterpart Nestoras Nestoros said the CMP is exploring new avenues of searching for burial sites in order to address the steady reduction in exhumation rates.
This, he said, would require the cooperation and support of religious leaders from both communities.
The third member, Paul-Henri Arni, said the CMP last year found a group of 36 missing persons thanks to information from a 95-year-old woman, who decided to overcome her fear and come forward because she felt she would die without sharing this information.
“Indeed, she died two months ago,” he said.
The daughter of one person missing since the Turkish invasion, Spyroulla David, said she was six at the time, and now she is 50, and she is still searching for information.
“Put an end, heal our wounds,” she said.
“This is inexcusably overdue. Inexcusably. All governments are responsible. They all did the best they could, but it was obviously not good enough.”
She added that her mother, who is 82, is only alive because she is hoping that one day they will be able to hold a proper memorial service for her father.
Although the CMP has identified part of her father’s bones, who went missing in Assia, this was not enough for David.
“The death certificate says that the cause of death is unknown,” she protested.
“I can’t accept this. I know how my father died. We need to resolve this so that we can move forward. My father was captured, executed, and thrown in a well by the Turkish troops. My father gave his life, I can’t accept that the cause of his death is unknown.”
Rasat Kansoy, the nephew of a Turkish Cypriot who went missing in 1964 while travelling on the Nicosia to Limassol road, whose bones have been identified by the CMP, said that as the son and grandson of a lost generation he is working to eradicate ethnic hatred, racism and the unacceptable living conditions of the past.